A wooden spaceship in downtown Seville.
The Metropol Parasol is one of the most important urban renewal and redevelopment models. A splendid example of harmonization between modern architecture and historical context located in Plaza de la Encarnacion in the medieval city of Seville. A true masterpiece of modern engineering, it is the world’s largest wooden structure to date.
Worried about the state of abandonment of one of Seville’s nerve centres, located among the shopping area, Calle Feria, Plaza del Duque and Plaza Ponce de Leon, in 2010 the city council decided to redevelop this square through an innovative urban project. This is how the project for the Metropol Parasol, later renamed “Las Setas” (The Mushrooms) by the citizenry, started.
Today the building is one of the main attractions for tourists and residents, who can enjoy a rich calendar of concerts and public events.
The Metropol Parasol is organized in five levels, which host an archaeological museum, an agricultural market, an elevated square, numerous cafés and restaurants, and a panoramic terrace offering a magnificent view of the old neighbourhoods of Seville.
The project was designed by German architect Jurgen Mayer. Opened in 2011, the megastructure is made up of wooden grids and consists of six giant mushroom-shaped parasols. About 150 metres (492 feet) long, 75 metres (246 feet) wide and 28 metres (92 feet) high, it covers almost the entire square, therefore sheltering it from the sun and from weather events.
Engineering company Arup was entrusted with the implementation phase of the project. Paying great attention to the archaeological heritage of the site, in order to preserve the integrity of the artefacts found during construction, they had to redesign the project and make sure that the structure broke ground in only six spots. An extraordinary accomplishment resulting from a series of experiments and load tests performed with maniacal precision.
Inside the Metropol Parasol, there are more than 3,000 connection knots at the intersection of the wooden elements. The unique structure of the building allows the air to flow but prevents the warmth of the Andalusian sun from entering. Mayer defined the Metropol Parasol as a “cathedral without walls” capable of creating a harmonious relationship with the surrounding environment, a sort of architecture walk on the roofs of the Andalusian city.
The combination of the strong will of the local administration to redevelop a neglected area of the city and the creative genius of the designer entrusted with the task brought the Parasol and its futuristic curves to life and they instantly became the symbol of Seville and one the most iconic buildings in Europe.